tv Book TV After Words CSPAN September 17, 2012 12:00am-1:00am EDT
she does work with dolphins i should be honest and tell you she is my wife as well. [laughter] i thought her work was so marvelous but to compare the two areas areas of neuroscience and then curiously we had one speaker was terribly ill and i did not know what to do and my wife said i will interview and you be the speaker. it worked out well. i have bad transcript so i will use myself.
>> host: stuart firestein, chair of the biological sciences at columbia university. this is his book, "ignorance how it drives science." there's a web site, ignorance. columbia. edu. >> up next, jacqueline pata. this week, anton truer. the expert out ojibwe answers questions. the questions range from
thoughtful and humorous to what some would consider offensive. >> host: i want to tell you i love the book. i thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and i was so glad to see the questions you answered in there, because in the beginning of my career when i started doing more things in -- outside of just indian country, unless it was nonnative audiences, i always had to create a space for people to ask any question they wanted to ask, and you would get all sorts of questions. i know they've been dying ask those questions, and so in your book, you cover a lot of those questions, and i was glad to see that. in the beginning in the introduction, you called yourself an ambassador, and i thought you could share why an ambassador and what do you see your role in -- in that role,
what prompted you to write this book? >> guest: great question. first of all, it's horribly unfair that anyone should ever be an ambassador for their people. one of the issues that comes up, especially with native american history and culture, is that there is no such thing as the native view. so, it's a loaded question to say, what do indians think about per capita payments or whatever. at it like saying, what do white people think about abortion, good or bad, and of course it's not that simple. there's a diversity of opinions, you know. sometimes emotionally charged opinion. around every issue you can national. so on the one hand no one represents the entire native view. that's one of most important dischairmans i put in there but at the same time, guess growing up in northern minnesota, and
going to school there where maybe 30's of the population was native. and there were so many mean-spirited comments and misunderstandings from peers and seems like the two world, native and nonnative so rarely interacted. they would send kids on field trips to minneapolis, like driving around the reservation to get there. and so i guess i thought, like many kid growing up, i'll go somewhere that has a zip code with a population density bigger than the one i came from, and i'll escape that's borderland, and of course when i went to college, and the first -- i went to princeton university. i thought thigh would be educated, and they asked me, where is your tomahawk, and i
thought, oh, wow. so i realize it, fair or not, would be the barometer by which a lot of people would understand or judge native people and issues, and so i realized the importance of my own work in that representation. >> host: great. one of the things i liked about your book also was balance. that's important. our tribal communities are based upon balance in the book you balance the topics dealing with sensitive issues, like my grandmother -- my grandmother was a cherokee princess, versus for a tribal community, the issues around tribal membership spend rolement, and you also dealt with the tough issues like the history of christopher columbus and can the white man dance, and that history lesson, and then lighter enjoyment of
reading the book. how did you decide what to cd and what not to include in this book? >> guest: for me, actually writing the book happened faster than some of my research projects, but kind of building up all of the questions happened throughout my contraction i guess. so many questions and i just kind of been keeping them in a shoe box, and then just sorted them out into categories and tried to figure out what would be the most important. i think really what is one of the fun things about the book, you can set it next the toilet, have a couple moving experiences and leave enlightened. it's easy, accessible, approachable reading, but real answers, too. i think doing some bridge-building is really critical work, and a lot of nonnative people got their sugar coated version of christopher columbus and the first
thanksgiving and very little else to even know how to ask the question. there's lots of guilt when the-s are raised that inhibits a deeper conversation, and for a lot of native people, serious look at our history leaves a lot of people really, understandably, angry. so, getting a guilty concern an angry person to have a deep, meaningful conversation, is hard. it's critical work for everyone in this country, going to school and not getting answers, and the teachers who got their sugar-coated version of christopher columbus and the first thanksgiving, too feel so ill-equipped to address the subject that it's safer not to teach about indians because if you open your mouth you're going to offend someone, and all you need is one angry native parent breathing fire out you or your administrator and people retreat into their shells. as a result native people never get chance to learn about themselves in their school
settings, and very rare, even in tribal schools -- which answer to curriculum standards and funding models that are not that different from everyone else. they're all after their per-pupil funding. even the bie schools. so, to really create meaningful learning opportunities for native people and nonnative people, critical stuff, and i think there's a lot at stake, not just so people can understand indians, but really for the stability, longevity of our very form of government, and it's -- these are troubling times we live in, and you can look across the world, the 77 kids killed in norway who were all children of political party members who favored open immigration. or france, another long established democracy, that has now been outlawing the wearing of traditional muslim attire in the streets. or here in the united states, where in arizona laws pass that
say racial profiling is cakes but laws that say we're going to dismantle ethnic studies across the board in the state of arizona. and of all the horrible disservices, not just to the program in tucson, which was dismantle, but also for everybody. imagine the children in arizona now being prepared for some fantasy land that will never exist, instead of the world in which their children will actually live and operate. so, to me, you know, the sustainability of democracy, a new political form in the history of the world, depends not upon our ability to assimilate all of our citizens but our ability to support and enable things like cultural and linguistic diversity. >> you said this we about ebathroom book. this is a book you can pick up many times, grab a section read
it, put it down, grab another section, you don't have to read it all the way through, and so that's one of the intoes of the book, too. one of the topics you addressed in there is something that is the number one question that i get from those people who are political sensitive and racially sensitive, and they want to be doing the right things but they just don't now how to call us american indians, alaska natives or what the census calls us, the aian. what is the right term, native american, first american, indigenous people? how did you answer that? >> guest: i guess this is one of the subjects -- and this comes up with a lot of things in the book -- where there might be a diversity of opinion. even within indian country. some people say, column but had is wrong. i'm not an indian. don't call me that. i'm a chenabe or whatever, so i
think it's important to be aware there's a deversety of opinion out there. for myself, i think it's far more important that we don't make everyone walk around on eggshells because having an angry disposition over something as simple as labels is a killer to deeper understandings and makes people shut down, not want to ask questions, not understand deeper and they retreat from the subject matter, and we need people to embrace deeper understandings and feel it's safe to do that and okay to do that. so i kind of lay out the prevailing termilot a of them he level of issue or problem. the term indian, was christopher columbus thinking he was in china and japan, and these are indians and that made its transfer into european languages and stuck. i guess on the one hand we can fault columbus for -- he didn't show up and say, oh, there are
humans here. it had to be someone other, and disempowered to the whole colonial mentality was problematic. so other terms can also be pretty ambiguous or confusing. whether it's native, if you say i'm native from minneapolis or a minneapolis native, dot that mean a native american who lives there or somebody who lived there an entire life. so already ambiguities. indigenous people to most parts of the world. so there's ambiguities. but there is an effort to find respectful ways to talk about things. in canada they've changed he terminology from reserve to first nation, and i think there's an effort to find emphasis in the united states on the nationhood of tribal governments rather than on thinking of them just as
cultural enclaves, and so there's been an effort with that. sortly the tribal term reference of people. you can call the dakota people, dakota, or ojibwes as ojibwe people. but in the long run you have to find some overarching term and, use them fairly interchangeably, aware of their shortcomings, but the emphasis should be on respect and an open mind and we should keep the conversation going. >> host: i totally agree about the respect issue. we talk about the attitude and knowledge of the american people and what they think about american maybe people and tribal government, and it's interesting that the most of the american public's knowledge around indian
country kind of ended with the public education experience so they know about christopher columbus, they know about pocohantas and thanksgiving. but the don't know about tribes today. you mentioned christopher columbus. and let's teal with that. ever columbus day i get call from media people who say, what do you think about columbus day? and the fact of the matter is, most people in indian country don't think christopher columbus as a hero. you deal with that in the book. >> guest: we could really spend our entire conversation on any one of the questions in there but i think it's really critical to look at this history, and i've been astounded that for a piece of hoyt -- history that we know so much about. columbus kept journals, wrote letters, took four trips to the americas, and then on --
starting with the second trip, there were lots of official describes -- scribes and army officials and people doing writing. missionaries. we know what happen. what astounds me is not just what happened, but 500 years after, we're still not really talking about what happened. the story is still so often sugar-coated, and i think, for example, we know that there was a genocide on columbus' second voyage. the spanish government, said all native people on the island that is now haiti had to bring a certain amount of gold four times a year, and chiefs had to bring ten times as much. what the spanish didn't recognize is that most othe gold they had seen there came in trade from mainland mexico and what gold was there was way under the ground not readily
accessible. so, couldn't meet the gold dust requirement. 30,000 peopled a their hands chopped off. within 30eers, two million inhabitants of española had been killed or died. so i was the beginning of a genocidal policy. we know this but for some reason we're still teaching 1492 christopher columbus sailed the ocean blue, discovered a new world. how can you discover a place inhabited by other human beings -- and opened the door for this new world and set an example for us, and even george bush the elder's statement used exactly those words, monumental feats, established the jubilee commission, celebrate the accomplishments of this great navigator and leader, and for nailtive people, even ones who don't know the entire history of columbus, they just know they're
something wrong with that perspective. i think -- this is part of human nature. no human being wants to be judged by their darkest days. no nation wants to be judged by their darkest days. but when nations have dark days, we have taj that. -- we have to acknowledge that. truth and reconciliation starts with truth. germany had to do a lot of work around the nazi holocaust. formal apologies, mandated instruction in the schools and it helps mitigate the chances of something like that happening again. here in the u.s. we have yet to get to, you know, -- we're seeing the first efforts at some kinds of apologies, but we have yet to get to really widespread formal apologies, rep parrations, mandated instruction. wisconsin requires educators to
take a class on native history. it's not nearly enough, and as a result, the misunderstandings abound. some people think indians are always from casinos or all living in squalor on lesser vacations and it's physically impossible for both things to be the whole story. it's complicated. and with the columbus narrative, took that's exactly the case, that there's so much to that story, and there's so much to how we teach about it. and with any of the subjects -- i remember one time asking a teacher, what about the indians? the teacher said, that's who was here before, and kept right on teaching. i remember thing, but i'm here now. and in spite of it all, a lot of people have bet against native people over the past 500 years. the last of the -- and fill in the blank with whatever tribe you want to talk about.
in i spite of it all we're still here, we have government, we have living languages and vibrant cultural traditions, and those are especially important things. so looking at the history, all the misunderstandings, columbus is one of the first entry points, and there's some really great material out there. i think this contributes a lot to help setting the record straight. there's tell in the rethinking columbus book published, which is a curriculum packet so you don't have to take kindergarteners and the lithographs with the hand chopping and say color in the blood. you can start by talking about that columbian exchange and how native ideas and tools around agriculture, medicine, scalpels,
those are good entry points for how native people have helped shape the world, and then you start. and then with the high schoolers, you can lay it out there and let them form their own opinions. that's lots and lots to discuss. >> host: thanks. you know, another topic you dealt with in the book of historical significance, terribly for those in indian country, is that what sets the foundation for tribal government today. you discussed sovereignty. you talked about treaties and reservations, and those are really important messages for us today as they were then. can you tell us why that was so important for you to include those? and what is the lessan you want to teach the american public. >> guest: misunderstanding abound so much. most americans are aware the world is a diverse place but tend to look at indian country as a -- cultural enclave, or a
more sophisticated understanding might be there are different cultural enclave. without understanding the whole political dim negligence what it means means means to -- dimension to what it means to be a tribal nation, and there are a lot of things politically, legally, culturally, that make being native very different from being amish or something like that, where you have distinct cultural enclaves and sometimes distinct lungs from immigrants that are maintained over time, and the importance of maintaining the tribal sovereignty should be important to everyone. of course it's important to native people. maintaining our own government. an important attribute of identity, and the most reliable course of understanding help for native people. incredibly, when we had 15% sustained unemployment rate of
15% in the united states, they called it the great depression. we got social security. we got tennessee valley authority civilian conservation corps, medicare, medicaid, this huge massive public intervention that is still here today. well, you know, b.c., before casino, the unemployment rate in indian country was an average of 50%. 5-0. and after casino, it -- rising tides didn't lift all boats. it dropped to around 20-plus% on average. so, there was an impact, but the native people that -- that great depression started in the 1800s and has never ended. we're still waiting for our intervention, and the only organizations trying to really alleviate the poverty, build jobs programs, schools, hospitals, tend to be native programs, run by native nations,
and i they have experiments with literally terminating tribal nationhood for some tribes with devastating consequences and there's a section on them as well. but they had actually pioneered sustainable forestry. for the world. and had actually built an endowment of $10 million at a time when many tribal people were living in abject poverty. had a great program. the u.s. government came in and said you guys are pretty civilized. we're terminating your tribal government, and the consequences were devastating for the sustainable harvest industry program, for the health and benefits of the people. it became the poorest county the state of wisconsin. cost the government more in welfare payments than to help sustain the government. it was horrible. and a lot of times that's been the problem with outsiders
trying to figure out how to do something about the indian problem, has been that they don't know what's best, and tribal governments tend to know a little bit better. doesn't mean they get it right. doesn't mean there aren't issues of contention around that as well. i think native nationhood should be seen as and viewed as critically important for everybody. when america came into existence, it was through contests. revolution against the british crown. and america's sovereignty was not certain. so they south out native allies, and you might recall the oneida coming to valley forge and bringing food supplies and reinforcement to the colonial army in a critical juncture in the revolution and other staple, and could have had a completely different outcome. and the same with the war of 1812 where america's sovereignty was being challenged again by the british crown, again the
important alliances with native people made a big difference. as a result, documents have specific mention of native people, and they include things like the trade and intercourse clause writ says only congress shall regulate trade and manage affairs with the states of indian tribes. what that means is state laws and state governments don't have authority over the native nations. they have a direct relationship with the u.s. federal government. so if a state has law that says gaming and gambling is illegal except for church wing bingeo, those lies don't apply to indian country, but there is -- treaties are supreme law of the land, and as partial payment for the land that arch in america is living on, enjoying building
this nation, native sovereignty has been affirmed. so, there's no way to do something to tribal sovereignty without doing something to the constitution and all those treaties, and honestly, if -- i think if united states wants to revisit all those treat yes, i think tribes would be happy to do it because they've got lawyers now. >> host: right. in fact i think in the museum in the smithsonian, did a nice display of the treaties and talk about the 400 plus treaties america has made and how many they have broken. and i think it just really does create the environment that we're actually working in as our government today, that we still have continued challenges and continue to go to congress for policies around indian health care provisions, education programs programs and other bases.
so governments are different and we recognize that because we have sovereignty and treaties and reservations, but we as people are different, too. we're so tied to our cultural customs, our traditions, our language, that are clearly based upon 'owho we are as people. you call yourself a language warrior and you spend a whole chapter on language. so we know how important this is. why does today as a modern day indian do we care about language? >> guest: great question to me, of course this is one of my primary passions, but to me language and culture is one of the most important areas for us to focus on as native people. it's a big part of what defines us. and of course, a lot of native people did not grow up speaking their tribal languages, through no fault of their open.
there's been a long nasty history with residential boarding schools and other aassimilation policies, so native people don't get to be blamed for what they didn't get growing up. but it raises some fundamental questions about identity and cultural change. for example, in minnesota where i come from, a third of the state's population are people of german heritage, and they've actually been living there for five generations now. so they've never lived in germany-don't speak german. but do have pride in their german heritage. if they went to germanying are might have a nice vacation, but would feel most comfortable coming home to minnesota. so there's a difference between having german heritage and being a -- a deutschelander and
there's a difference in being a native and what our ancestors were. so the question is, how much can people change and still be the same people. still be recognizable to their ancestors. to me, the preservation and revitalization of tribal languages and cultural customs is really critical work, and if you look at some of the tribes that have been really successful financially, you know, dakota, seminoles. i was talking to some september anyone seminoles. i said you eliminate post for your enrolled citizens to the point where they had a budget shortfall in the state of
florida, and the tribal chairman said i feel your pain and donated to help alleviate the budget shortfall for the state of florida, which brought lots of love. and political power, and they've accomplished a lot. but if you ask them, okay, then, what keeps you up at night? almost every one i talked to says, language and culture loss. and this is my greatest concern for our tribal leadership today. and i see them working so hard and so many with so much great integrity, and they're climbing this mountain, and it's the mountain of economic prosperity, and it's good to have our eye on that because poverty is a real issue in indian country. they're climbing this mountain of economic prosperity can, of political empowerment because that's the vehicle by which they can do bigger and broader things. my fear is they're going to get to the top of the mountain, look around, and say, oh, my god, we just climbed the wrong mountain.
we should have been focusing on language and culture. and it does define us in so many ways that i can speak more about ojibwe because that's what i know, but, for example, as matter of perspective, our word for an elder in the ojibwe language, it literally means great being. our word for an elderly woman means, literally, one who holds things together. describes the role of the family matriarch. and english you have old woman and aged woman and elderly woman and no wonder everybody wants to get a facelift and botox injection and dye their hair and won't admit how old they are. you don't actually have to say, respect your elders if you're saying it in ojibwe. at it -- it's built right in with every word you can use. and in many other ways, too. i think everybody who is involved in education, native or
nonnative, is concerned about what they often call the achievement gap. but to me they achievement gap is really a misnomer. it's an opportunity gap. and just as we were talking about christopher columbus, you can look at just about every major entry point in the social studies curriculum and the major heroes who are talked about. washington, lincoln, grant, jackson, the ones on all the denominations of u.s. currency, with the exception of hamilton and franklin, they've all personally killed indians and engineered policies that are genocidal to people. so my heroes are not your heroes. so there's the disconnect. i do a lot of training for k-12 educators because they're on a turn-around plan with "no child left behind," and trying to figure out how to address the
achievement gap. i say, sometimes i'm in a school with 90% or 100% native kids and i say, let's walk around the school. and amazingly there isn't even artwork that testifies to the existence of our race. then you look in the books and what's being taught as predominantly nonnative teachers, teaching predominantly about the hero worship of knopp native people and it's not the intent of those who design curriculum or teach it to marginalize people, but because they feel ill-equipped think feel they don't understand native people. they feel it's not okay to ask anything they want to know about indians but were afraid to ask, and nothing happened. and as a result, school is still, in spite of it all, about assimilation, and as a counterexample, one of the shining stars in the native education field -- and there are
some great shining stars, schools making their ayp, "no child left behind," and when somebody gets it, we should pay attention to that. one of them is the ojibwe language immersion school which is based in wisconsin on a reservation, and astoundingly, in spite of the fact that the national average is a 50% failure rate in state mandated tests in english and in math across much of indian country, in spite of that, over there they started this ojibwe language immersion school, and it meets all curriculum guidelines, just do it in ojibwe, and amazingly for 13 yours in a row they have had a 100% pass rate in state mandated tests in english, administered in english, even though their teachers teach them exclusively in ojib way. isn't that amazing? >> incredible. >> guest: goes to show that learning something like a tribal language is not about another
pretty bird singing in the forest, not just about appeasing the small sliver of traditional-minded native people. it's about what might be our most effective tool to generate academy achievement, and the reasons are simple. with any kid you look for the one thing that keeps them interested and involved in everything when it comes to education, for some it might be sports or music, whatever. but for native people, access to language and culture does that. it also shows that going to school and learning all about the great heros of the world, not yours -- all below the great civilize of the world -- not yours -- all about these important things, none of which are yours. slowly but consistently engineer a powerful blow to self-esteem, but learn about yourself and as well as the rest of the world, that totally changes things. all of a sudden the papers, who have had a pretty negative experience with education, you
look at the residential boarding schools, most people have at least vaguely heard about education for assimilation, educators beating people for speaking the only languages they knew. schools that kept cemeteries for the kids. like haskell and carlisle. they hear about that but don't really realize. a lot of native people don't feel comfort enable parent-teacher conference. don't really like the way some people have had a negative experience with death-don't feel comfortable in a hospital. and at it like that. but at those ojibwe immersion schools or other ones-all of a sudden it turns that on its head. it involves native people and parents, it changes the educational paradigm. so they're getting everything everyone else is but also getting a second language and it builds trust and rapport and academic success. so to me it's not just about the
pretty bird. it's about identity, it's about ookayedation accomplishment and success, and another piece of this, too is that nate tithe people -- native people get to change over time. we don't have to be frozen in time. one time i went with a friend to see dances with wolves, when it came out, and the response was your people have a beautiful culture. you know, and i didn't know what to say. like i was thinking at first, well, you know -- >> host: yes, we do. >> guest: but we're from the modern age, not the 1800s, and we're from the lakes and woods and not the plains. and there's so many pieces to that, and i think a lot of people just don't understand. don't know where the entry points are. so, i think all of this fits together. the language stuff, the culture stuff and it's a toolbox that is critical for us, not just with education but with health.
the maury indigenous population in new zealand have seen things lick rate of decline in participation in gangs and gang-related violence and that's really excited. everyone is scratching their heads on education and health. >> host: when you look at indian done and particularly the impact on education, you touched on boring schools i'm say -- boarding schools and that was probably one of most single policies that happened to american indians that affected our academic achievement on so many levels and social ills in our communities take one moment to explain, what is boarding schools and what happens. >> guest: it's really a chit important piece to understanding how we got where we're at. there's a tendency in america for people to say, you know,
that's all happened in the past. can't we just forget about it? expf move on? for most americans their experience as immigrants have been one of disconnecting from mother land, mother tongue, mother historical experience so it's hard to understand how historical trauma works. but as an i analogy. it's simple. someone hits you in the head with a hammer and then puts the hammer down and says, forget bit itself, forget about it. there's still a horrible wound and it hurts and affects every facet of life. so the boarding school experience is one of those pieces in the historical trauma puzzle, and the schools themselves were designed -- the policy started in the late 1800s, and captain richard pratt, the charm of the first indian boarding school said, our goal is to kill the indians in
order to save the man, and he meant this will be education nor assimilation, and the before and after pictures, the physical makeover for the student us, are astounding. leanord moss said, -- if someone had a braid cut off, we would cotterrize the wound so your met medicine wouldn't leak out. so these kid goes to school and the first thing happens is your hair is cut and their medicine ball is ripped away, and education is come pulse si, and when they within there, there were aren'tal schools a thousand miles away from home and they would sometimes spend 12 years there being fostered to nonnative families in the summer months. ask the idea was to generate
jobs for people and assimilate into mainstream society but nody thought about this is america in the late 1800s and there was a racial barrier to gainful employment for people of color. so that the economic opportunities never materialized. people drifted home. but how do you learn how to parent but by how you're parented. so you get a generation, sometimes one, two, three generations in a family, that are parented with lots of harsh physical discipline and without nurture and puts a tear in the social fabric. >> host: think is very recent policy. my mother went to boarding school. my husband's mother went to boarding school. we're talking about the effects for our current population. >> guest: right. almost all of the grandparents' generation have been through this experience, and in canada most of the parental generation
has been through this experience. they start later, ended more recently. so, it's a big deal. and so many different types of damage, and i think the only way to really heal that -- so many of the other things we deal with in indian country, there have been lots of ugly chapters. has to do with truth and reconciliation, setting the record straight, providing opportunity for people to understand what happened. and then we can move on from there. south infrastructure has done a lot of good work on truth and reconciliation, canada is starting. here in the u.s. we still have work to do, and i'm hoping we can create good bridge-building that will enable that sort of work to happen. >> one of the things we recognize about the healing that happens in indian country is really -- something we actually get recognized for the public -- is the native american spirituality. people recognize that.
and i loved how you put it in the book. it made it just seem to simple. i was raised by my elders and the first thing they teach you is to respect all things. and respect everything in front of our face. and in the book, you talk about how we have a connection to our creator, my language we call it -- but that our connection is through that, and less of a dependence upon this religious structure, the pope, the pastor, and so that if we disassociate from that religious activity or that church, that the religious experience doesn't end. we're able to feel connected and recognized as a religious person. so religion is very much part of
our everyday lives in our communities and as who we are as people. but we still have persecution for our religious processes, and you mentioned that in the book. in fact one of the phone calls we get it those people who are incarcerated from prison or military, who are limbed in their ability to practice their religion, how practice is that? >> guest: i think it's a real issue. the first kind of disclaimer to put out there for people is that there's so much diversity in indian country, and there's a diversity of faith traditions even. for example, the red lake reservation in northwestern minnesota, one of the villages there is actually never had a church, never had a mission, has 100% traditional religious beliefs, they bury their dead in the front yard, and these grave houses in everyone's yard. it changes things. so, you step out the door, there's mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, going back generations
and makes it hard to sell the family farm and move to california so to speak. so that connection to place is really deep. and it's like that for a lot of native people. on the same reservation, across the lake at the village of red lake, there's a catholic mission and church. the population is predominantly catholic. they have had nuns there for 90 years. those or two villages on the same reservation. so you can have a real diversity of faith traditions and experience. at the same time, i think regardless of religious choice, native people do have access to -- and are able to participate in different customs, beliefs, and practices, and to me some of the most beautiful and empowering parts of what it means to be native. force those who are incarcerated, those who are -- for whatever reason, having trouble accessing their home community and spiritual leaders, it's a real challenge and issue,
and i think that there needs to be recognition for our beliefs, customs and practices, and equal access to them. some people are working really hard, especially for the prison population to present opportunities. sometimes its hard to find practitioners able and willing to go to those places. some somebody might be incarcerated hundreds of miles from their home community or something, and so there's some profound challenges there. but i think it's important work, and it raises fundamental issues even about prison systems in general. if you really want that to be about rehabilitation, provide that access is critical, and native people, sometimes it's a struggle in indian country, just knowing who you are. finding your way. and so creating ease of access to those things is important. and it's one of the things we do in a lot of the ceremonies i help out at. trying to make it a point to even do things like translate, because the ceremonies are run
exclusively in the tribal language. but a lot of people aren't speakers so you want to make sure they can understand and absorb the content and meaning of what is happening there, and i got to say, you know, working around those things is some of the most fulfilling fulfilling g work we do for young hunters and coming of age ceremonies for young women, naming ceremonies, all of that can provide that sense of self and knowledge of direction, fasting, and all of those are really important customs for my family, and of course they're different specific ceremonies for each tribe, but tends to be an openness to somebody goes fasting and gets a song or medicine, and no one would really challenge that. they would be empowered directly by forces greater than us, and so i really appreciate the way that anyone can be someone.
>> host: for me it's important, even though i don't live at home anymore. i'm in washington, dc -- to be able to go home enough to keep that connectedness and also be able to keep the practices with you and that's who makes what we are. another part of the identity is something that we have to live with which is called tribal enrolement, tribal membership, but it is one of the questions that comes up because people are always calling and asking, well, how do i -- i think i have native ancestors, how die find out what tribe i'm from? and then other people say i want to find out how i can collect my check of get any free education, thinking those are wayrealy what they get. what kind of guidance do you people who want to know their ancestry. >> guest: it's a great question. first of all, a lot of people have native ancestry and have been completely disconnected.
for a long time, a third of the native population was being foster and adopted out. they have a right to reconnect. so just because somebody doesn't know who they are, doesn't mean they should be turned away. so it's important to create opportunities for people to do that. at the same time, there are a lot of people -- the identity piece is really complicated. if i said, you know, my great-great grandmother was an english princess, you know, even if she really is, just by saying that, it means i'm not saying i'm an englishman. i'm just claiming a connection. and sometimes that's the issue when somebody says, my great-great-grandmother was a cherokee princess or something like that poor cherokees get picked on more than anybody. i guess the issue there is sometimes with that sort of statement, or with one like, someone of my best friends are indians or whatever -- it's
using a connection, whether it be a friend or an ancient anises central one as a way ancestral one, as a way to say i'm not racist. so have native friends but don't use them as a badge to alleviate guilt. and if you have native ancestry, fine out about it and embrace and it learn about and it connect, find meaningful connection rather than using it as a badge or curiosity. those who want to fine our more are it's getting easier. there's a major land settlelement in northern minnesota and they keep some sew sophisticated jean rollingal records and a lot of tribes are billing that up for themselves, have tone keep careful records, and some places more than others. the other part to all of the
ancestry stuff is about tribal enrollment, and this is a contested issue in indian country, and feelings are very strong on all sides of it. it hinges upon this. citizenship in most nations across the world is determined by being born in that nation or applying for citizenship through some sort of immigration process and often taking a citizenship test or something like that in indian country, eligibility for citizenship is determined by a proven percentage of blood from that tribe, and the problem is sometimes people have relatives, four grandparents from different reservations and might be 100% native but enrolled as a quarter in one place, and if they marry someone from a different tribe or nonnative person, then their children aren't eligible for citizenship. so some people feel very strongly it should be moved to
lineal descent. some people think we'll be enrolling everybody who has seen an indian, and if we do that it will dilute benefits. more outsiders not living on the reservation controlling tribal politics and that's where the issue hinges upon. i guess for myself, i think we need to loosen up the tribal roles, move more in the direction of lineal descent. i think it's fine to require people to apply in person at the tribal enrollment office, rather than by mail, hunting for a perceived benefit or something like that. some tribes are talking about things like citizenship tests and i think it's an interesting time at and a critical discussion. >> host: a critical discussion for tribal leaders to have. you also deal in the book with something i want to call attachable moments, and we have a lot of attachable teachable
moments. one woman called someone an indian giver, and you dial with that in osama bin laden and geronimo. indian country was very upset and demanding apologies and we tried too use is at another teachable moment as the department of defense. people are dealing with teachable moments with the mascot issue. what you your message to that policy? >> guest: shares so much to say. i think -- well, first of all, bottom line for me -- not all native people feel the same. some people are -- they think it's fine to have native mascots. i don't, i think it's time for us to go i think we're slowly moving in that direction in spite of resistance. some day we'll look back at native americans as mascotted and sports teams like we look at segregated water fountainness the south and think, how could that have been tolerated or defended?
i think the trend is to move in that direction, and i think that's the direction to move. of course, it's highly contested, and it's not happening uniformly everywhere. there's been more work done at the high school level and college level than professional sports, but to me the issues are simple. has to do with respect, and if people feel they are honoring others or feel they're not or feel it doesn't care, that doesn't matter. a lot of native people -- not all but a lot of native people -- don't feel honored. they feel disrespected. and even those who are trying to honor the opposing teams will necessarily defile their opponents mass scoots in the name of team spirit. when there was a recent game between the fighting sioux and the bull dogs, the opposing fans were chanting, smallpox blankets, and slay the squaw,
and nobody would say those type of statements are respectful. how would i feel comfortable brimming my children to that game? so, if there are, say, alternatives, it's not just political correctness gone awry, but alternatives, lions and tigers and bears, let's go that route. and it won't hurt anybody. i won't dishonor anybody. all that stuff will go away, and we can just focus on the sport, you know, and we can focus on education at the schools, and things that would be much more important. so, to me, it's a no-brainer, but people are attached to their historical mascots and there's been resistance. but i think the trend is to move in that direction. even if you can find an indian who will support your mascot, a lot of people won't. so it's time to move on. >> host: you know, the other thing wanted to mention that this book does is sets the groundwork for current issues
we're dealing with today, politically and policy. and so you have a section here where you deal with tribes having their own police forces, their own court, relationship with state governments as far as jurisdiction, why does the fbi come on to our reservations to investigate murders and the whole question've who has jurisdiction is one of the issues that -- on the hill today dealing with violence against women and trying to figure out, how can tribal government be able to have jurisdiction to be able to protect their women and children from perpetrators. another issue that you deal with as a foundational piece in your book you talk about the indian child welfare act, and the doings and the -- adoptions and high number of chirp in foster care, and we're waiting for this decision coming out on foster care about the indian child welfare, and people who are policy decisionmakers should read this book because it has
those grounding principles, oorigins of the issues we're dealing with today. so, as you're dealing with the few minute wes have left, what of those policies -- what were you thinking when you included those pieces within the book and what were your hopes? >> guest: a lot of peep want at sustain studies 101. how does sovereignty work? what is indian child welfare? there's so much that people don't understand. the law is complicated. indians are complicate and indian law is really complicated. so most lawyers don't get it. and finding a way to kind of understand, not just why we have casinos or something like that, but what the real nature of the legal framework in indian country is, and how that affects daily life. it's really important. even in a place like minnesota,
where native people are one and a half% of the state's population. we're 20% of the state's homeless population. 17% of the state's prison population. and anybody who cares about basic human issues has got to be aware that native people need addressed and our issues need addressed to combat those things. same thing with poverty. half of the native kids are in poverty. so there's a major thing that people need to understand. so furnishing the school and political frameworks are critical pieces to that, and that child welfare piece is also really human. -- really huge. there was a piece on south dakota and indian child welfare. it was horrifying. some states have done a bet j